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# Lecture 2 : The Flight Environment

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

1.0 The Earth’s atmosphere

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

Question: Are the boundaries for the atmospheric regions the
same everywhere on the Earth ?

## No. The Earth is not a perfect sphere.

The World Geodetic System (WGS)
models the Earth as an oblate spheroid

## equatorial axis = 6,378,137.000 m

polar axis = 6,356,752.314 m

polar tropopause = 6 km
equatorial tropopause = 17 km

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

Question : Is the Earth’s atmosphere uniform ?

0 km 20 km

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

Question : So how are the boundaries defined ? By pressure, density or
temperature ?

## Air temperature falls at a

constant rate in the
troposphere.

## From the tropopause,

the temperature remains
constant at -60 0C until
20 km above S.L.

## The lower stratosphere is

the limit for atmospheric
flight

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

2.0 Aerodynamic flow parameters

## For this range of speeds, airflow characteristics are determined by

2 important parameters :
1. Reynolds number Re

2. Mach number M

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

2.1 Reynolds number
1. Air is “sticky” or viscous
2. From the aircraft’s viewpoint, the air at the surface is stationary

V = airspeed

normal
direction

velocity builds up
from 0 to V
aircraft surface
G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control
3. The thin region where the air flow builds up its speed is
called the boundary layer.

## 4. The Reynolds number is a measure of the importance of

this viscous effect

## Re = (pressure forces) / (viscous forces)

= ( V2) / (V / L)

= VL/

## L : reference length  : coefficient of viscosity

 = / : kinematic viscosity
G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control
Example : What are typical Reynolds numbers for aircraft ?
Using the F16 at S.L.

## V : 360 m/s (cruise) L : 9.14 m (wing span)

 : 1.4607 x 10-5 m2/s (kinematic viscosity for air at S.L.)

Re = V L/ 

=
=

## The lower the Re, the stronger the viscous effect.

G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control
2.2 The Mach number
1. Air is compressible.
2. A moving aircraft disturbs the surrounding air

## 3.These disturbances e.g. pressure variations, take a finite time

to propagate at the speed of sound through the surrounding air
4. The Mach number measures the importance of this
compressibility effect .

= V/a

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

Example : What are typical Mach numbers for aircraft ?
Using the F16 at S.L.

## V : 360 m/s (cruise)

a : 330 m/s (speed of sound at S.L.)

M = V/a

## The higher the M, the stronger the compressibility effect.

G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control
Classification of flow regimes via speed

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

3.0 Atmospheric models

## 3.1 The equation of state

1. Pressure, density and temperature of air are related via an
equation of state
2. The equation of state for an ideal gas is :

P =  RT

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

3.2 The variation of the speed of sound

a = ( R T )1/2

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

Ex : Find the temperature range within the troposphere,
i.e. h = 0 to 11 km

0 15
11 -55

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

Exercise : Show that

i) a = 20.06  T
ii) a = ( P/ )1/2

a = ( R T )1/2
=

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

3.3 The standard atmospheric model
or how pressure, density and temperature varies with altitude

## 1. Recall that in the troposphere, the temperature decreases

at a constant rate with altitude i.e. dT/dh = -c = -6.51oC/km

## Hence for the troposphere T = TSL - c h , or

T/TSL = 1 – (c/TSL) h

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

2. Consider a small layer of air dh above an area A. The
decrease in pressure at the top is:

dh
dP =

=
A

equation

dP/dh =

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

3. From the equation of state,  = P/(RT), hence

dP = - (g/R) dh
P TSL - c h

## P/PSL = [1 - (c/TSL) h] g / (Rc)

= ( T/TSL )5.2506

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

The density variation in the troposphere is obtained as :

##  / SL = ( P/PSL) / (T/ TSL)

= ( T/TSL )4.2506

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

4. For the lower stratosphere, temperature is a constant = TST .
Hence the aerostatic equation simplifies to

dP/P = -g /(RTST) dh

altitude :

## G. Leng, Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control

The density variation with altitude in the lower stratosphere is
derived simply by :

 / ST = P / PST

Why ?

Homework

## 1. Derive a table of temperature, pressure, density for 0  h  20

km (at intervals of 200 m) for the equatorial atmosphere i.e.
tropopause at 17 km.

## 2. Compare your table for TSL = 30oC with international standard

atmosphere (ISA) tables (sea level temperature = 15oC,
tropopause at 11 km).